Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The current double bill of Daniel MacIvor's Here Lies Henry and Monster, running at Factory Theatre until mid-December, is a seamless and action packed study in the art of the emotional roller coaster - with touches of stand-up, horror movie, psychological word play, and a very complex perspective on ways in which story-telling and truth-telling inhabit (and 'un' inhabit) each other in unexpected ways that both thrill and perplex spectators in a moving and entertaining way. 

The presentation of these two very different 70 to 80 minute scripts compliment each other through the power of solo performances by Karl Ang (Monster) and Damien Atkins (Henry...), and reveal MacIvor's (with Daniel Brooks as collaborator) timeless talents for delving into the psyches of complex personalities, and their takes on the world at large.

Karl Ang takes on, in a skilful and engaging way, the voices of several characters that inhabit a harrowing childhood experience, and the accompanying graphically described scene from a gruesome film that has informed the central characters lives, as well as the intersectional presence of the horror film as a genre and a life experience. Ang is a master of vocal versatility and draws spectators in with a clear and powerful performance.

Atkins delivers a more playful, yet equally as mesmerizing performance thorough the character of Henry - a complicated mess of a man who is simultaneously endearing and infuriating as he rambles through a series of meditations on being alive, confused, and intent upon telling truth through lies, laced with the looming presence of mortality though another form of lying - as in horizontally inclined. He is especially engaging through the use of extreme physical agility as he is directed by Tawiah McCarthy with a very clear and expertly calculated finesse - at times dancing and moving about with an elegant comic grace and diverse physicality. Soheil Parsa's direction in Monster is equally adept at bringing precise and punctuating blocking, as well as fine emotional layering to the characters Ang so brilliantly inhabits.

Having seen the original productions with MacIvor in the roles, it might make sense to compare the varied performances. And yet there is no comparison. Gifted actors like MacIvor, Ang, and Atkins do justice to these complex scripts. From what I can remember, MacIvor brought a unique and singular energy to the roles that gave the theatrical solo performance experience a meta-theatrical tone and through-line, brought about by MacIvor's prolific output as writer and performer. Ang and Atkins bring more of an actor'ly presence, delving into specific character and emotional layers, while MacIvor inhabited the voice of the writer and actor through a kind of performance monologue technique that defies traditional notions of theatrical enterprise. Clearly, it is difficult to articulate the differences, and yet the mounting of these two productions reveals the timelessness of the scripts, and the ways in which they can be brought to life decades later by a brilliant production team.

The shows can be seen as a double bill or on separate evenings. For dates and times see;


Here Lies Henry (2006)

Produced by

Da Da Kamera

Presented by

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

PlaywrightDaniel MacIvor
Daniel Brooks


The Alexander Street Chamber Theatre


September 19th, 2006 – October 15th, 2006


An idyllic SORT OF miserable SORT OF nightmarish SORT OF story book SORT OF remarkable SORT OF regular SORT OF story. A man alone in a room with a mission to tell you something you don’t already know.

With Here Lies Henry, MacIvor gives voice to the character of Henry, a self-confessed liar. Henry rambles with a mixture of energy and fun. He’s a thirty-something optimist who ponders the meaning and pointlessness of life. He begins slowly by revealing things about himself, such as his childhood, his homosexuality, and his lies. He claims his assignment is to tell the audience something they don’t already know. Since Henry is a professional liar, it’s difficult to distinguish between his lies and the truth. Presented in a minimalist style familiar to da da kamera audiences, one actor, light and sound combine to give an atmosphere of intimacy breaking down the fourth wall and making the audience feel like they are part of the drama. That is to say, making them feel like they are part of Henry’s world which of course, they are. MacIvor cannily distills the human condition and seesaws hilariously between truth and lies, and more lies. (, 2006).



Monster, a one-man play, begins in the total darkness of a movie theatre. After a long silence, someone in the audience rudely shushes his neighbour, and the show begins. Daniel MacIvor transforms himself into a series of characters whose lives seem eerily related. There’s the young boy who tells the story of the neighbour lad who hacked up his father in the basement. There are alcoholic Al and shiny Janine, the lovers who quarrel, make up, and decide to marry after seeing a movie about a lad who … well, same thing. There’s the ex-drunk who dreamed up the movie, but got no credit because he was said to have stolen the idea from a famous unfinished film, a claim that so angered him that he went back on the sauce. And there’s the movie maker who made that incomplete epic.” 

                                                                    - Philadelphia Inquirer



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